It was a quick and expensive trip to DC from the West coast, which came to naught. But I don't regret going. I got to see the Mall and a couple of museums and found my way around on the subway. Pretty cool.
I take responsibility for my degree of preparation for the OA, which was moderate. But I also confess that I was disappointed in the interviewers I was assigned to. There were two. Without disclosing their exact identities, the main guy (who was in WAY too big of a hurry to be done with me and to get me out of there so he could eat something) looked like the Alastor Moody character from the Harry Potter movies, but with shorter hair. (google it)
The interview portion of the day included very direct questions and I thought I did pretty well overall. The interviewer would cut me off in the middle of my answers and you could tell the whole interview process, at least in his mind, was intended to create a sense of stress in the candidate. I suppose to see how you handle it. Still, I did well.
It became clear that their discretionary scoring must be what ultimately makes their decision. At least that is my very strong impression from the experience. And it is only my opinion. He obviously wasn't too impressed with me, but I can honestly say, the feeling was very mutual.
I could tell he was a guy the Dept is just waiting to retire. He was a 60-something ol' codger who seemed like the kind of guy that an employer may have been trying to get rid of for years, but just can't. No frills and no emotion other than disdain for his job. It created a rather negative ambiance actually, which I thought was completely unnecessary.
So, just be prepared for the interviewer(s) to not give a "darn" in the least bit. I could tell they were just rushing through their portion of the process so they could go to lunch. Not too impressive.
But I'll try again next year maybe, unless they "mark" me for writing this and block any further applications from me. heh heh :-)
All you can do is just prepare, do your best and be yourself. If you happen to jive with your interviewers, good for you.
Sorry you had a bad experience. Mine was actually the opposite. I liked my assessors and got a positive vibe from them during the interview. They seemed genuinely interested in my stories and didn't seem to rush me at all. They smiled at times and weren't as emotionless as I had expected. I think I got cut off at times, but not in a rude way; they were just trying to make sure I answered the question.
I ended up passing the OA, but failed the reading portion of the language exam afterwards. (My language assessors were kind too, even though I pretty much embarrassed myself for a good bit of it.) The lady who walked me downstairs actually told me that my main assessor was disappointed I didn't pass that part of the language exam. Sigh. So I guess my point is that some actually do give a darn.
Was your interview on a Friday? I think I remember you. I was the guy that missed by .5 of a point. I'm sorry to hear that you were not selected. Funny, the examiner told me that same thing as I was being walked out of the building...he wished I had been selected, too. They should allow the examiners more flexibility in that aspect.
Here's my overall impression taken from a sample size of three Oral Assessments. The assessors are trained to be stone-faced and give nothing away. This is hard for the interviewee and seemed to be hard for the interviewers as well, because it runs contrary to normal human conversation. I didn't take it personally whatsoever. I contrast this to an interview I had the day after OA #2 at an NGO for a job I was unusually qualified for. The young lady smiled encouragingly throughout the interview, then asked me a "trick" question, which I completely bombed. The contrast with my OA was enlightening. I think it's necessary, when dealing with an emotionless inquisitor to maintain your own inner smile and respond almost as if you were conversing with yourself. Understand the rules of the game and don't take it personally. And even if the interviewer really was a bad egg, you won't do yourself any favors by thinking about this during your interview. Good luck on OA #2. It took me three times!
The irony of this discussion is that the website and letter they send you to prepare for this OA clearly lays out the rules. Prior to the interview, the two FSOs tell you that they are not allowed to show emotion and that they do this so as not to give false hope during the interview. They also specifically told me that they would interrupt me in order to get me to answer their question more specifically because they had a time constraint they had to stick to..they were very caring both times I was not chosen and the last time I missed by less than a point--passed the OA but didn't do so hot on the written test. I suggest you go to the State Department website and submit a FOIA request to see more specifically how you could have done better during your interview, if that's where you fell short,
Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry you didn't pass. It will be an expensive trip for me too, from the western part.. I'm determined to make a vacation out of it, not expecting to pass. Thanks again for posting.